Born Again

I decided that I needed an orchard. I have planted a couple of trees here and there, mostly ones that have died, but this year I decided to get serious. After dropping five and six-figure sums on the house itself — I don’t want to add it up — dropping two-figure sums on a few trees just seemed overdue. So I got two almond trees, two apple trees, two plum trees, a fig, a yuzu. a persimmon, an apricot and a white peach. They are all doing well. I see Bellinis in my future.

For the last few months I have wondered what to do with Robert. He has been languishing in a box in one closet or another for six years now. It’s a long time for me but of course he’s outside time now. I’m sure he’s been okay with it.

He used to talk about how he loved the Gravenstein apples that he ate on family vacations in the Russian River valley. So I found a local nursery that sold Gravensteins — but not online and I had to head back to Paris, so I sent Julien over to pick one up. This guy also had the only persimmons of the variety I wanted, so tracking him down was a must.

Julien is starting to love these wild goose chases. He found the guy, who is not online because he retired a few years ago. He still has a few trees, though, so he dug up what Julien wanted and traded them for a little cash. The prize was the Gravenstein. No one here knows what they are, so for a bargain price, Julien was able to bring home a full-size tree. You can sort-of see it through the mirabelle blossoms in the photo. We could have apples this year.

I came back down from Paris about a week ago. As I say, the trees are doing great. It has been a warm spring. Everything looks fabulous. So, having bought the memorial tree and seeing that it will survive its first year at my house, I dug Robert into the roots. Jacques displayed his usual excellent social skills. Instead of chasing after trucks, birds, airplanes, whatever, he stayed right with me, curious but not too much, until Robert disappeared into the mulch. And then, Robert being a gin man, I made myself a stiff G&T.

Jacques Report

Bonus points if you figured out right away that that’s not Jacques. It’s his fault the little guy is there, though.

It being nearly April, everything around here is popping. Jacques had me up at 4:30 this morning — he fooled me into thinking he had a tummy ache — which is how I discovered the meaning of the expression “up with the birds.” It was at that point when you can just tell that the sun will soon appear. The birds are going nuts. You never hear that much from them in daylight.

I determined that Jacques was faking me out — he took off running the second the door was opened — and went in to make coffee. Then I had to go out again. Jacques had cornered the fluffy white psychopath from across the street. Unlike the little sport killer, Jacques thinks the thing to do with prey is bark at them. So he barked and barked until the psychokiller found an escape route. It made Jacques’ morning, but I wanted to go back to bed. I left the front door open. Jacques likes to hang out at the entrance, keeping watch over his domain.

Thus the bird. He found his way clear up to the top of the house and into my bathroom, the most remote corner at the top of the house. There he perched and probably pooped until he flew out the skylight that I opened for him. At least Jacques didn’t bark.

Daffodils Again

It’s getting to be like Countryfile around here. Once again, the daffodils are here. Once again, I’m amazed and just have to show you. You’ll see the rest of the living room soon, I promise. The rest of the furniture should arrive in the next couple of days.

While I wait, I’m also adjusting to how much work it is to maintain this place. Fortunately nothing actually breaks. It’s just day-to-day chores, which never seem to end. It’s a good thing I enjoy it. Even so, without a good handyman who is happy to double as a good gardener, I’d find it overwhelming.